As the number of tablet users continues to grow, hyperlocal sites can no longer afford to focus exclusively on their PC-using audience. Almost a quarter of all adults in the U.S. now own tablet devices, and 64% of the people in that group say they use their tablets to consume news at least once a week.
The real question for hyperlocal publishers isn’t how important tablet readers are, but how best to cater to this group. The publishing standards that work on PC browsers don’t always translate to tablet screens, and the popular notion that readers on mobile devices want short nuggets of information (as opposed to longer-form articles) is no longer holding true. Here are five strategies that hyperlocal publishers should consider when creating content for readers on tablet devices.
1. Communicate through rich media. One of the best aspects of the growing popularity of tablets is our ability to communicate through rich media. At Happenings Media, we consider how every piece of content added to our sites will display over mobile and tablet devices, avoiding anything Flash-based if possible. We’re quickly moving away from the days of using separate mediums to engage in different types of content — TVs are also computers; phones are also radios; iPads are also TVs — and moving toward cohesive, engaging multimedia content. We believe there is a huge opportunity for original rich media in the hyperlocal space. (Angela Giovine and Tina Paparone, Happenings Media)
2. Consider the time of day. The tablet continues to be a combination of “lean forward” and “lean back” for users, depending on the time of day. In 2012, research was showing that tablets were used primarily in lean back mode, meaning they were used in the evenings. Now that’s not necessarily the case. Tablets are being used at other times of the day, and publishers are banking more on morning editions. While evening may be prime time for tablets, the unspoken word seems to be that tablets may replace the morning newspapers one of these days. For publishers, it’s all about finding a balance. (Dr. Mario Garcia, Garcia Media)
3. Broaden distribution with an outside app. One of our goals at Happenings Media is to ensure that our content is readily available when and where readers want to see it. We partner with popular tablet and mobile applications like Pulse to broaden our distribution. Pulse is not only one of the most popular digital reader applications, but it was also one of the first to offer hyperlocal content feeds, which really stood out to us. We believe in utilizing technology that has been designed with mobile in mind. (Angela Giovine and Tina Paparone, Happenings Media)
4. Don’t forget the advertisers. Because tablets have the capabilities of mobile devices combined with the benefits of the larger screen size, publishers have the opportunity to support truly exceptional ad experiences on their tablet properties. Rich media enables the kind of creative ad units that offer interactivity and incorporate features like video, galleries, games, and e-commerce that engage users and bring greater value to advertisers. We regularly enable tablet campaigns that deliver double-digit engagement rates. That is the sort of thing publishers should be enthusiastically promoting to the industry to help drive further advertising investment. (Eric Litman, Medialets)
5. Keep the ‘media quartet’ in mind. Sometimes publishers decide to go for a tablet edition just to make sure they’re offering the format, without giving much thought as to why that is, the type of tablet presence they wish to have, or how that presence will compliment other platforms in the media quartet (online, print, mobile, and phone). The tablet edition of a publication is a highly individualized type of presentation. For example, the evening-only publication cycle is not for everyone, just as morning-only may not be. Should a newspaper do both? Should the publication be static or dynamic? To me, those questions need to be answered once a publisher decides to go ahead with creating a tablet presence. (Dr. Mario Garcia, Garcia Media)
Stephanie Miles is an associate editor at Street Fight.
Image courtesy of Flickr user nvanb.